Dog Abuse

10 Arrested, 89 Dogs Rescued in Massive Dogfighting Bust

Ten people were arrested and 89 dogs were seized when investigators busted a massive dogfighting ring that operated across Long Island, in New York City, and in several other states.

“We will not tolerate these types of crimes—crimes that injure and, in many cases, result in the death of vulnerable animals,” Suffolk County District Attorney Timothy D. Sini said. “Many of us have dogs as pets in our homes and we love them as another family member.”

Through their investigation, detectives were able to infiltrate a massive dogfighting enterprise and put it out of business. They arrested 10 individuals responsible for perpetuating the horrifying cycle of violence against animals and rescued 89 dogs that were trapped in a life of torture and brutality.

Suffolk County Police Department

The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office and Suffolk County Police Department, in collaboration with local, state, federal, and non-governmental agencies, began an investigation into alleged dogfighting occurring at residences across Long Island in early 2021. The investigation involved surveillance and intelligence obtained through social media, among other investigative tactics.

The 10 arrested defendants would allegedly set dogs up in practice fights, known as “rolls,” when they were as young as six months old. Through adulthood, the dogs were frequently subjected to inadequate living conditions and improper sustenance as well as rigorous training programs designed to increase their tenacity, agility, and bite strength.

When the dogs were determined to be ready to fight, a “broker” would orchestrate match-ups based on the dogs’ weight and sex, among other factors. Dogfighters looking to participate in a fight, also known as a “match,” would pay a buy-in fee known as a “forfeit” to have their dog entered into the fight, and the winning dogfighter would receive all of the proceeds. The defendants would also allegedly place bets on the outcomes of fights, which are violent events that can last several hours long and result in serious physical injuries or death for the participating dogs. The investigation revealed evidence that the defendants would allegedly engage in unlicensed medical treatment for injured dogs, as well as killing dogs that were either severely injured or had underperformed in fights.

Suffolk County Police Department

The defendants also allegedly made money by selling puppies descended from dogs who were successful in past fights and were considered to have strong “bloodlines.”

Pursuant to the investigation, search warrants were executed by the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Suffolk County Police Department, ASPCA, and other agencies at nine locations in Suffolk County, three locations in Nassau County, and one location in Brooklyn on July 31 and Aug. 1.

The search warrants resulted in the recovery of various dogfighting paraphernalia, including veterinary surgical supplies, such as a skin stapler; “rape stands,” which are used to immobilize female dogs during breeding; plugging cords, which are used in the electrocution of dogs; steroids and other supplements used to enhance the dogs’ performance; “break sticks,” which are used to break dogs apart by their mouths when they are fighting; and equipment used to strengthen the dogs’ agility, tenacity and bite strength, including treadmills and spring poles.

Suffolk County Police Department

The 89 rescued dogs were found in various locations in residences, including basements, garages, and sheds, and some were without food and water. Many of the dogs displayed various medical conditions consistent with dogfighting, including scarring and broken teeth, and were exhibiting fearful behavior.

The defendants are as follows:

William Ashton, a/k/a “Mr. Bill,” 80, of Mastic, is charged with two counts of Violation of the Prohibition of Animal Fighting, a felony, and Possessing Animal Fighting Paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor.

Jontae Barker, 32, of Bay Shore, is charged with Violation of the Prohibition of Animal Fighting, a felony; Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals (Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance), a class A misdemeanor; and three counts of Possessing Animal Fighting Paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor.

Edward Hodge, 74, of Uniondale, is charged with Violation of the Prohibition of Animal Fighting, a felony; Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals (Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance), a class A misdemeanor; Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, a class A misdemeanor; and two counts of Possessing Animal Fighting Paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor.

Darrel Madison, 44, of Mastic, is charged with Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, a class A-I felony; two counts of Violation of the Prohibition of Animal Fighting, a felony; Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals (Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance), a class A misdemeanor; and three counts of Possessing Animal Fighting Paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor. During the execution of the search warrants, Madison was allegedly found in possession of more than half a kilogram of cocaine.

Jeffrey Spencer, 65, of Wyandanch, is charged with Violation of the Prohibition of Animal Fighting, a felony, and Possessing Animal Fighting Paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor.

Paul Whelan, 57, of Shirley, is charged with two counts of Violation of the Prohibition of Animal Fighting, a felony; Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals (Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance), a class A misdemeanor; and two counts of Possessing Animal Fighting Paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor.

Jerome Chapman, 39, of Bay Shore, is charged with two counts of Violation of the Prohibition of Animal Fighting, a felony; Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals (Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance), a class A misdemeanor; and three counts of Possessing Animal Fighting Paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor.

Timothy Eury, 43, of Hempstead, is charged with Violation of the Prohibition of Animal Fighting, a felony; Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals (Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance), a class A misdemeanor; and Conspiracy in the Fifth Degree, a class A misdemeanor.

Charles Macwhinnie, 52, of Hampton Bays, is charged with Violation of the Prohibition of Animal Fighting, a felony, and two counts of Possessing Animal Fighting Paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor.

Joseph Owens, 49, of Amityville, is charged with Violation of the Prohibition of Animal Fighting, a felony; Overdriving, Torturing and Injuring Animals (Failure to Provide Proper Sustenance), a class A misdemeanor; and three counts of Possessing Animal Fighting Paraphernalia, a class B misdemeanor.

If convicted of the top count of Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the First Degree, Madison faces a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison. If convicted of the top count of Violation of the Prohibition of Animal Fighting, the remaining defendants each face a maximum sentence of up to 4 years in prison, a fine of up to $25,000, or both.

The dogs are being treated and evaluated by the ASPCA.

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